By Pessoa, Fernando; Lisboa, Eugénio; Taylor, Len Clive

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Works: The Keeper of Flocks (1911-12); The Amorous Shepherd: Uncollected Poems (1913-15). 2 Born in Tavira, 15 October 1890. The date corresponds with his horoscope, Pessoa says. Studies at the liceu; later in Glasgow, reads naval engineering. Jewish ancestry. Travels to the Orient. Artificial and other paradises. Adherent to a non-Aristotelian aesthetic, which he sees fulfilled in three poets: Whitman, Caeiro and himself. Wore a monocle. Irascible and impatient. 3 Born in Oporto. He is the most Mediterranean of the heteronyms: Caeiro was blonde with blue eyes, Campos ‘between light and dark’, tall, thin, and with a cosmopolitan air; Reis, ‘dull dark skin’, closer to the meridional Spanish and Portuguese.

Fernando Pessoa felt that ‘sense of banishment’ all the time, and in every kind of human experience. But if exile is deprivation, it may also be a bizarre form of wealth, to the extent that it makes a mind powerfully inquisitive and subversively creative. Such was the case with Pessoa, as the poetry and prose in this collection will show. 1 The Western Canon by Harold Bloom. Harcourt Bruce, New York 1994; Macmillan, London 1995. Bloom describes his ‘canonical’ authors as ‘authoritative in our culture’ and ‘selected both for their sublimity and their representative nature’.

I wrote discretion and pride; I should probably have said reluctance and realism: in 1932 he aspires to the post of archivist in a library and they reject him. But there is no rebellion in his life: just a touch of modesty that looks like disdain. After his return from Africa, he never again leaves Lisbon. First he lives in an old house with a spinster aunt and a mad grandmother; then with another aunt; for a time with his mother, again widowed; the rest of the time, in temporary accommodation.

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